Guidance on Use of Telecommunications for IACUC Meetings under the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Notice Number: NOT-OD-06-052

Key Dates
Release Date: March 24, 2006

Issued by
Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), Office of Extramural Research (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/olaw.htm)

This Notice provides guidance to Public Health Service (PHS) awardee institutions and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) concerning the use of telecommunications when a convened meeting of a quorum of the IACUC is required under the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/phspol.htm).

Background

Sections IV.C.2 and 6 of the PHS Policy require, respectively, that full committee approval of a proposed research project or suspension of an activity by the IACUC occur only after review of the matter at a convened meeting of a quorum of the IACUC and with the approval or suspension vote of a majority of the quorum present. In a 1992 article published in the ILAR Journal (Vol.37 (4)) OPRR (now OLAW) advised that alternate electronic methods meeting certain criteria may be considered functionally equivalent to physically-convened meetings under exceptional circumstances. This Notice clarifies OLAW guidance with regard to the use of telecommunications when a convened quorum is required.

This guidance is consistent with policies of the Office of Human Research Protections and the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, regarding the use of telephone conference calls for Institutional Review Board meetings under their respective regulations for the protection of human research subjects (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/policy/irbtel.pdf).

Guidance on Use of Telecommunications for IACUC Meetings

The traditional convened meeting, physically attended by IACUC members, provides the optimal forum in which to conduct full committee review of proposals and consider potential suspensions. Introduction and integration of new members to the Committee is also most effectively accomplished during physically-convened meetings. However, OLAW recognizes that some forms of telecommunications facilitate the conduct of business, reduce regulatory burden, are standard practice in many forums, and enhance flexibility without compromising the quality of deliberation and interaction. The IACUC chairperson, as the appointed leader of the committee, bears some responsibility for holding committee meetings in a manner that encourages participation and facilitates interaction among members.

Methods of telecommunications (e.g., telephone or video conferencing) are acceptable for the conduct of official IACUC business requiring a quorum, provided the following criteria are met:

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care, which is responsible for the USDA Animal Welfare Regulations that contain identical provisions regarding convened IACUC meetings, concurs with this Notice and will publish consistent guidance in its Research Facility Inspection Guide.

Inquiries

For questions or further information, contact:

Carol Wigglesworth
Acting Director
Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare
National Institutes of Health
Rockledge 1, Suite 360, MSC 7982
6705 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-7982
Phone: 301-402-5913
Fax: 301-402-2803
Email: wigglesc@od.nih.gov


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